September 21, 2006

California Attorney General files lawsuit against automakers for global warming damage

Oakland, California – Bill Lockyer, California’s Attorney General, filed a lawsuit yesterday against leading U.S. and Japanese auto manufacturers, alleging their vehicles’ emissions have contributed significantly to global warming, have harmed the resources, infrastructure and environmental health of California, and have cost the state millions of dollars to address current and future effects.

The complaint names Chrysler Motors Corporation, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor North America Inc., Honda North America, and Nissan North America. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the People of the State of California, is the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for damages caused by greenhouses gases emitted by their products.

“Global warming is causing significant harm to California’s environment, economy, agriculture and public health,” Lockyer says. “The impacts are already costing millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing. Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly-growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and automakers have refused to act. It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to this crisis.”

The complaint alleges that under federal and state common law, the automakers have created a public nuisance by producing “millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide,” the lawsuit says. The complaint asks the court to hold the defendants liable for damages, including future harm, caused by their ongoing substantial contribution to the public nuisance of global warming.

Lockyer is also fighting the auto industry’s attempt to invalidate California’s landmark global warming regulations curbing tailpipe emissions. In their federal-court lawsuit, the automakers claim that the regulations, adopted in 2005, are pre-empted by federal law. Lockyer is defending the rules against the industry’s legal challenge.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing a lawsuit filed by Lockyer, eleven other Attorneys General, two cities and major environmental groups challenging the EPA’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; in addition, Lockyear, along with nine other state Attorneys General, the District of Columbia and the City of New York filed a lawsuit earlier this year challenging the Bush Administration’s new fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks, alleging that the rules fail to address the effects on the environment and global warming.

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